Kim Alexandersen became the newest chairman of The Thai Nordic Association (TNA) at the community’s 104th Annual General Meeting, On April 4, 2023.
He was born in Thailand and is the son of a Thai mother and a Danish father – both long time members of the society. His father, Leo Alexandersen, was the chairman of TNA in 2000-2001. His mother Eid Alexandersen, who was chairwoman in 2009-2010, just became an honorary member for her long-time dedication to the community.
As Kim steps in to his local bar, the Witch’s Oyster Tavern in Phloen Chit, he is immediately recognized by several people at the place. It is hard not to notice him, since he is almost several heads taller than most people in the room. His friendly face, which is a harmonic mix of Danish and Thai features, is passing around smiles to everyone he knows.
Ties to many countries
Unlike most people with Scandinavian blood, Kim likes the heat and chooses to sit at a table outside, from where he shares his story.
When he was six months old, the family moved to Nigeria for four years. Then they spent two years in Jakarta, Indonesia and after that, they came back to Thailand for six years, which was around the time where Kim was in middle school.
The family then moved to Belgium for four years, where Kim finished high school at the age of 17. After that, he did a sabbatical year before attending college in Canterbury, England.
“My sister and I asked our parents if we had done something wrong? Why they had chosen to take us from Thailand where we had everything, to Belgium where we had nothing,” he shares with a nostalgic laugh.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
The move was really hard for the family, who then found out, that the father’s job was actually in Sweden and not in Belgium. He therefore had to go to Sweden on weekdays and then he would come home to the family in Belgium during the weekends.
When Kim after four years left Belgium to study in England, the rest of the family stayed another two years before his parents moved back to Thailand.
At the University in Canterbury, Kim studied history and history of art, after which he took a master’s in international relations. He then by a coincidence got a job in London, where he for two months would be knocking on people’s doors trying to get them to buy something.
“It was probably the worst time of my life. It was really hard for me. The job was 100% commission and I had no money. I had approximately 1 pound to live on per day. So, I could buy a can of beer or a double bacon cheese burger from Burger King. It was a very hard choice sometimes,” he shares.
“London is a fun city when you have money, but when you don’t, you just feel like that kid in that Christmas movie, who dreams of being able to afford to eat. That was me,” he adds, starring down the table in front of him, while uttering a nervous laugh.
It was that job that forced Kim to find a new occupation, which somewhat by coincidence, led him into the real-estate business.
“Not something I chose”
Today, he works for CBRE, which is the largest real-estate consultant in the world. The clients are also among some of the biggest companies worldwide. A firm he has now worked for 13 years.
“At the job interview at CBRE, I told them that I would take the job to at some point be able to move back to Asia. So going into real-estate was not something I chose. It just kind of chose me.”
After a year and a half, he moved with the company to Hong Kong where he stayed for seven years, before he had the chance to move to Bangkok in 2018.
After two years the company went through restructuring and his position was abolished. In order to get a managing position as the one he had, he would have to consider moving to Singapore, which Kim had no interest in doing.
“There was a time where I thought I would return to Thailand to retire, but then it dawned on me, why wait? My family is here so why not enjoy being able to spend time with them while my parents still have the energy? I had only just moved back. I was just starting to recognize it all and I love it so much here. Including the Scandinavian society that I grew up with, so I wasn’t interested in moving.”
Getting back to the Thai Nordic Association
When Kim first came back to Bangkok, it was initially his mother who convinced him to become a part of the Thai Nordic association. A community that his parents have been a part of for as long as he can remember.
“My mother said quite quickly that I should come. If nothing else I could get free food, so why not I thought. Before I knew it, I was on the board.” he says with a laugh.
He started as vice-chairman at a time where it was uncertain whether the organization would survive. This was one of the main reasons why Kim allowed himself to be persuaded to contribute.
“I am half Thai and half Danish, so it is a good start in relation to why I have chosen to spend my extra time on the Thai Nordic association.”
Back then, Kim had a more demanding job and time was more limited. His main responsibility as a vice-chair was therefore to plan the societies various events.
“That can of course be time consuming enough. At the last event we did, we had 300 handmade bead-strings, that me and my girlfriend spent a lot of hours on making. At some point I had to pay my girlfriend’s cousin 5 baht a string, because it was too much work. I had to outsource it,” he says and laughs.
Many visions for the community
Being the vice-chair was mostly about planning events and meeting people. Now he spends hours every week attending meetings, doing administrative work and answering emails, while trying to get people to volunteer and join the board.
“I try to get more women on the board. If it was up to me, it would be 50/50. I’ve never really thought about it until someone made me aware, that the Scandinavian community has always been considered to be this club of older men. I want to change that.”
Changing the associations name is according to Kim, one of the major things he has been pushing for as vice-chair.
“It took almost two years, but I think it is one of the best things that has happened to the community. It makes it more inclusive. We want to create an environment that is safe and comfortable to everyone. No mater race or sex. We want to welcome and include everyone. Thais, Nordics and friends of the Thais and Nordics.”
While we are talking, he gets distracted as he thinks he recognizes a man who has just entered the bar.
“Judging by the way he has his sunglasses on top of his head, I’m pretty sure it’s him,” he says unable to take his eyes of the man.
Important to have a place to meet like-minded people
Not long after, one the co-owners of the bar stops by the table to greet Kim. It quickly becomes clear, that socializing and meeting people is a huge part of Kim’s life, which is also one of the main reasons why he is so involved with TNA.
“We want more young blood in TNA. I think it’s important for younger people to be able to come here and meet like-minded people as well. It worked for me when I first came back here and it can be really hard to meet new people. TNA is one of the best places to do that,” he shares while he takes a sip of his beer.
Besides contributing with the social aspect, TNA has brought Kim more than company. Even though, Kim has never really lived in Denmark, being a part of TNA has made him feel more Danish. As a part of the Scandinavian community, he has learned a lot about Danish culture he says.
Spending summers in Denmark
Kim and his sister used to spend every summer with their grandparents in Denmark from the time where Kim was 7-years-old and his sister was only 5.
The two young children would be put on a plane and then picked up at Copenhagen airport by their aunt when they landed. From there they would fly to Billund in Jutland, where their grandparents would pick them up and drive them to their home in Brædstrup. Here they would stay for around three months every summer. A tradition Kim stuck to from the time he was 7 until he was 22-years-old.
First his grandmother died, after which he continued to go to Denmark and spend time with his grandfather. Later his grandpa died and after that, Kim would go to Copenhagen and spent time with his aunt, uncle and cousin.
“I do feel very Danish, but no one sees me as Danish. I also feel very Thai, but no one sees me as Thai. If people feel that way, that is fine, but I feel both,” he proclaims.
“I like golf, but I’m not very good at it”
Kim has a lot of hobbies. Among them is the Thai Nordic golf-society which is a huge part of TNA. Not that he characterizes himself as a very great golfer. He only started playing to lure his dad back on the golf-course after he injured his back.
“I like golf, but I’m not very good at it. I just really enjoy being outside, but the real reason why I’m playing golf is because my dad stopped playing golf, due to hurting his back. It used to be one of the things he enjoyed the most.”
When Kim first moved back to Bangkok he confronted his dad with the fact that he had stopped playing, even though his back didn’t hurt anymore at that point.
“I think it’s a very Danish mentality not to do something, just in case that something bad might happen again.”
He then figured out a different approach to get his dad back to the golf-court, which was to say that he would like to learn how to play.
“I then told him, that if he would come and pick me up, and drive me there I would pay for the both of us to play. And if he were to hurt his back again, he could always stop playing without having lost any money on it.”
That was a deal he couldn’t refuse, so the two ended up playing every Sunday for three years.
Be careful how you spend your time
Among his other hobbies are ultimate frisbee, which is a competitive form of frisbee, that Kim has now been playing for 26 years. The last two years he has been taken up Pickleball, which is a newer take on Tennis, while back in Hong Kong, he used to play Dodgeball for almost seven years.
“I like playing randoms sports and I’m fairly good at it to be honest. My main hobby is of course socializing and Drinking,” he adds with a sarcastic laugh.
By the looks of it, it seems like Kim has a very busy schedule to keep up.
“You have 24-hours a day. You spend around 8 of them working. 8 of them sleeping, and then you have approximately 8 hours left. Some of that time you spend on eating and other necessities, but whatever is left of those eight hours is your time. You have to be very careful how you choose to spend that time. Do I want to sit at home and do nothing, or do I want to go out and meet people?”
A question that he doesn’t have to answer. Just by the way he engages with the girl in the bar, as she brings him the check, makes it clear. Kim is a people person, who will always spend his eight hours engaging in something social. Whether it being golf, ultimate frisbee, TNA meetings or events. Kim always chooses to have people around him.
4 Comments on “Kim Alexandersen – first half Thai, half Scandinavian Chairman of Thai Nordic Association”
My Goodness, what a kindergarden tale.
What a nice way to spend my late lunch break by reading a fantastically written portrait. I really appreciate the time you took to meet me and this article Miabell.
Thanks for the support as always ScanAsia and Gregers Møller.
Sorry but I really wonder who might be interested in the above!
My Goodness, you’ve got Kim Alexandersen nailed down excellently. I can recognize him in every little descriptive phrase, you have added throughout the portrait. Good job, Miabell!